Facebook Creates AR Goggles for Internal Research

by Guy Frum

Tech and social media giant Facebook is about to unleash its new set of augmented reality (AR) goggles, except there will not be one single pair for sale.A listing on the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the organization that regulates interstate and international communications, had tech junkies buzzing that Facebook was getting ready to come out with a new device to complement or replace its VR standard Oculus, but it turns out the public was barking up the wrong tree.

The Aria Glasses were first announced at the Facebook Connect media day last year, but are now revealed to not be a consumer product nor even a prototype for one. These glasses will be worn by Facebook employees as they work for research purposes.“(They) will help us collect data to uncover the underlying technical and ethical questions and start to look at answers to those,” Facebook said in a statement earlier this year. “Project Aria will Project Aria “will capture the wearer’s video and audio, as well as their eye tracking and location information. The glasses’ on-device computing power will then be used to encrypt and store information that, when uploaded to separate, designated back-end storage space, will help our researchers figure out how AR can work in the real world.”

Mapping Tools

A big part of Aria’s purpose will be creating virtual 3D maps for users’ surroundings to let the AR interact better over longer stretches of time.
Facebook will use the glasses to create these maps, in a project called LiveMaps, that future AR devices can then tap into so they know where they are in relation to other objects, the layout of the room, and the people in it.
Facebook engineers say this process is too complex and power-dependent to do in a real-time environment. It sounds quite like the way Google Maps works, with the Facebook researchers taking on the role of the Google Maps car drivers who take photos of routes and file them into a database to be used later and updated as necessary.
While the research is being done internally, the fact that the glasses can scan your entire environment and upload the look of it to a database will certainly lead to more questions about Facebook and data privacy once the product that is the other half of Aria is revealed. 

Upcoming Buzz

Facebook has also announced a deal with Ray-Ban and Luxottica to produce a new form of smart glasses, which are not related to Project Aria. These glasses are expected to debut at this October’s Facebook Connect and be released for consumption in Q4 2021. Expect to see more about Aria and whatever consumer products will derive from it at Connect as well, slated to take place virtually on October 28 with Mark Zuckerberg as the main speaker. The event was formerly called Oculus Event dating back to its debut in 2014, but was rebranded in 2020.

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